OUR THERAPISTS

PAMELA A. MALONE, Ph.D., LCSW-S, FT
CLINICAL DIRECTOR
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Dr. Malone is an expert in the field of grief and loss and is a Fellow in Thanatology. Her clinical social work experience spans over 30 years, providing mental health services to individuals, couples, and families. She has held teaching positions at various universities where she has developed and taught courses on death and dying, grief and loss, and suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. Dr. Malone brings with her local, national, and international recognition through her many publications, presentations, trainings, and professional conferences. She is the author of Counseling Adolescents through Loss, Grief, and Trauma (2016) as well as the chapter on Wonder Woman and Delayed Grief in Superhero Grief:

The Transformative Power of Loss edited by Harrington & Neimeyer (2021). Other book chapters include Children and Adolescents in Crisis, and Children and Adolescents Growing Up in the Shadow of Divorce in Children and Loss: A Practical Handbook for Professionals edited by Pomeroy & Garcia (2010).

RACHEL SAFFER, LCSW-S, DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN'S PROGRAMMING, REGISTERED PLAY THERAPIST in Training
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Rachel Saffer earned her Masters of Social Work from Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Starting as an office volunteer at Austin Grief, Rachel quickly grew to be an integral part of our team.

 

Rachel has experience in providing counseling to adults, teenagers and children who have experienced significant trauma in both group and individual settings.  Rachel utilizes various interventions in her practice including therapeutic yoga, EMDR, and traditional play therapy. She believes in providing every client with a welcoming and safe environment so that they can work towards healing on their own terms.

JILL ARECHIGA, LCSW, THERAPIST
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Jill Arechiga is a native Texan and earned her Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Before leaving the corporate healthcare industry, she was a hospice social worker for 9 years. 

 

Jill also has a particular interest in helping people with advanced directives (tackling those difficult end of life decisions). When it comes to self-care, she can be found exploring the waters of Central Texas in her kayak.

LAURA BABINEAU, MEd, LPC, THERAPIST
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Laura Babineau earned her Master’s in Special Education from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, VT, her Master’s in Counseling from St. Edwards University in Austin, and has trained in EMDR trauma therapy.  Laura started her career as a Special Education teacher in Vermont and Massachusetts before moving to Austin in 2006.  Laura has an extensive background in facilitating support groups and has been a group facilitator at The Austin Center for Grief & Loss since 2014.  Her own grief experience has given her a strong belief in the strength, wisdom, and resilience of the human spirit, and the personal growth that can result from experiences with grief and trauma.  She considers it an honor to walk beside her clients on their personal grief journey.

Laura enjoys playing music, spending time with her family and hiking around Austin. 

JOSEPHINE BIBBY, LPC-Associate, THERAPIST
Supervised by BRITTANY NEECE, LPC-S, LMFT-S
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Josephine Bibby is currently a Support Group Coordinator for The Austin Center for Grief & Loss. Josephine earned a Masters in Counseling from Southern Methodist University. Josephine has worked in public and private counseling agencies in Austin and enjoys working with individuals, couples, and groups.  In her spare time, you can find Josephine working on crafts, reading, or spending time with her pets and partner.

JULIE BIECHLIN, LMSW, THERAPIST
and 
GROUP COORDINATOR
Supervised by TAMMY LINSEISEN, ACSW, LCSW-S 
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Julie Biechlin comes to The Austin Center for Grief & Loss after 22 years as a Disability Specialist with the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services-Disability Determination Services. Prior to this she worked with several agencies in the field of social work including The Settlement Home. Her personal experience with spousal  loss and mental illness of a family member has drawn her to this field of work. In addition, she volunteers with the National Alliance for Mental   Illness as a support group facilitator and teacher of the Family to Family Class and has been trained as a support group facilitator for The Austin Center for Grief & Loss. Through this work she is able to guide her students and support group members through  

the journey  of recovery from loss, how to navigate the mental health service system and insights and skills for family members to assist loved ones with mental illness and still maintain the balance with self- care. Her passion lies in sharing what she has learned through her experience with grief, loss and trauma and new beginnings.

CHARLES CALE, MA, LPC, THERAPIST 
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Charles Cale is a Texas native and earned his Master of Arts in Counseling in 2015 from St. Edward's University.  He has extensive experience in social service, including online support communities, and support groups.  In his private practice he uses a Postmodern approach which respects the cultural backgrounds and beliefs of the individual.  He uses Narrative therapy to look for understanding instead of blame, and to see perceived problems as motivating forces. A foundation of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is used to to help families and individuals sort out emotions from logic in order to make solid life choices.  When not working in a psychological setting, he can be

found hiking with his wife, reading, people watching, or building LEGO creations for his cats to knock over.

CALEB DANSKY, MEd, LCSW, THERAPIST
and GROUP COORDINATOR
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Caleb Dansky is a licensed clinical social worker who has been working with children and their families for the last 15 years.  He practices from a differentiated therapeutic stance, and is prepared to engage in multiple therapeutic medians including: play, music, movement, art, horticulture, and imagination.  Caleb is trained in culturally competent interventions aligned with trauma informed practice, polyvagal theory, and attachment theory.  He is able to support children on an individual, family, and parent level through evidence-based practices such as safe and sound protocol, child parent psychotherapy, and circle of security.  Caleb has worked with children experiencing both direct and ambiguous loss.  Through this work, Caleb has built a foundation strong in admiration and

wonder.  He brings a unique energy to the therapeutic space, and believes that therapy consists of both tears and laughter. In his leisure, Caleb can be found exploring mountains with his dogs, cooking large meals with his family, and getting lost in the world of literature.

JOEY FECHTEL, COUNSELING PRACTICUM STUDENT,
Supervised by PAMELA A. MALONE, PH.D., LCSW-S, FT
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Joey Fechtel is currently a student in the St. Edward's University Master of Arts in Counseling program. He is also a volunteer support group co-facilitator with the Austin Center for Grief and Loss. From his personal loss journey, Joey has felt the power of support when experiencing grief and loss. It is his privilege to be in the room, working with folks finding their way along the difficult, transformative path of grief. In his spare time, Joey enjoys Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, cooking, playing guitar, hiking, biking, listening to all kinds of music, and hanging out with his two cats.

ALICIA ZAPPONE GOSTYLO, MA, LPC-Associate, THERAPIST
Supervised by DR. MARIA SPELLINGS, LPC-S
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Alicia Z. Gostylo (she/her/hers) earned her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. A native Austinite, Alicia enjoys spending time in nature, dancing, reading, and playing games with her family. Alicia is a certified yoga teacher trained in Integrative Yoga Therapy and enjoys incorporating mindfulness, breath work, somatic awareness and movement into her counseling sessions. She is a strong believer that what makes grief and loss so challenging is that “We are wired for attachment in a world of impermanence.” How do we integrate our losses into that reality? There is no getting over it, only going through it. As a counselor, Alicia sees herself as “companioning” individuals and families through the wilderness of grief as well as pointing out guideposts along the way so

you don’t feel as lost. With a dose of courage and hope one can begin to heal in grief and to find continued meaning in life.

JENNIFER HALLIGAN, COUNSELING PRACTICUM STUDENT, Supervised by RACHEL SAFFER, LCSW-S
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Jennifer Halligan, earned her BA from Stanford University, Jen is currently completing her final year in her Master's of Mental Health Counseling from Seminary of the Southwest, where she is a ‘Spirituality in Counseling’ scholar who appreciates how belief systems influence how we navigate and find meaning in life’s ever-changing seasons. With over 25 years of professional experience in the tech start-up world (where she’s been affectionately referred to as a “corporate therapist”), Jen has led teams and corporate culture initiatives while coaching professionals ranging from CEOs and executives to everyday worker-bees. Alongside her corporate work, Jen founded Prune & Bloom where, as a “life decluttering coach,” she’s used in a holistic, inside-out approach to help people create space for what’s next in their life. She has been invited

to speak at the likes of Ascenion’s Seton Cove and Story Circle Network, and has led reflective journaling retreats and expressive arts engagements for groups ranging from cancer patients and church groups to millennials, moms, and retirees.  

 

As your therapist, Jen sees it as her role to companion you through this tender season and to provide you with the space and grace to honor your loss and support your healing. Jen’s own personal journey with grief -  including having lost her father to ALS (i.e. Lou Gherig’s disease - a terminal neurodegenerative disease) and navigating infertility - has honed her heart to accompany others grappling with meaningful losses. She aims to offer a supportive environment infused with compassion, patience, curiosity, creativity…and even a bit of humor if the opportunity presents itself! The blend of evidence-based approaches and tools Jen uses incorporates generative modalities like expressive arts, journaling, and narrative therapy. With warmth and an organic, down-to-earth style, she hopes to meet you where you are today and create new stepping-stones forward - at a pace that works for you. 

BRYNA HOÀNG, COUNSELING PRACTICUM STUDENT
Supervised by RACHEL SAFFER, LCSW-S
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Bryna Hoang (she/her/hers) is a Vietnamese American counseling student at St. Edward’s University and is working towards becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Prior to returning to school Bryna’s career was oriented around research and advocacy for and by marginalized populations – specifically those with disabilities in rural Texas and the United States Latine/x community. The advocacy work she did before joining counseling informs her therapy philosophy. She gravitates towards narrative therapy, relational cultural therapy, solution focused, play therapy, and Internal Family Systems. She believes at any age we are the best experts on our own lives and the role of the therapist is to work alongside the client(s) and help them find meaningful ways of living and healing. 

  

Bryna is drawn to helping clients process grief, loss, crisis, trauma, and life stage development- especially

as these things intersect with systemic barriers and clients’ cultures. She is committed to the ongoing work of unlearning and creating anti-oppressive spaces in and outside of counseling.  In her spare time, she loves to take dance lessons, try every Asian restaurant she can, play video games, and watch stand-up comedy.  One of her proudest accomplishments is that every single one of her K-12 report cards said she was “too talkative.” 

HANNAH KOSTER, LMSW,  THERAPIST
Supervised by BECKY MORALES, LCSW-S
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Hannah Koster earned her Masters in Social Work from Western New Mexico University. Hannah worked as a student intern at The Austin Center for Grief & Loss for the spring semester of 2018 and was hired as Client Care Coordinator after graduating. Hannah has experience working with youth of all ages and is passionate about helping children and adolescents work through the difficult periods in their life. Hannah utilizes a strengths-based approach, helping clients identify their abilities and gifts that will give them resiliency to make it through adversity.  In her spare time, you can find Hannah spending time with her family, playing board games, or exploring new

restaurants around Austin. Hannah loves to go on long walks or hikes and practice yoga in her down time. 

LYNNE LEVINSON, MEd, LPC-S, THERAPIST
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Lynne Levinson has been a licensed professional counselor since 1992. She came to The Austin Center for Grief & Loss in 2017 after over 20 years at the University of Texas at Austin where she was a career counselor, manager, and administrator. Prior to that, she was in private practice where she specialized in trauma counseling and couples counseling. Lynne is a certified EMDR therapist. While she has been trained in many counseling modalities, she primarily utilizes EMDR and Somatic Experiencing to support adults experiencing trauma, grief and loss. Like many counselors who are drawn to grief counseling, Lynne came to this work through her own personal experiences of loss, including sudden death loss, expected death loss, as well as job loss. She recognizes that many of us seek not only empathy but also guidance as we navigate the grief process, and she honors the

desire for both deep connection and insightful guidance in her counseling. Lynne also volunteers at Hospice Austin where she sings with Threshold Choir for patients in hospice. She has practiced meditation and yoga for all of her adult life and honors death, as well as grief, as part of a greater whole.

JESSICA MARQUEZ, LMSW, THERAPIST
Supervised by PAMELA A. MALONE, PH.D., LCSW-S, FT
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Jessica Marquez is a bilingual therapist with over 15 years of professional experience working with children, adults, and families. She has worked in public schools providing therapeutic support, resource referral, and educational advocacy for students. Additionally, Jessica has a background in leading psycho-educational groups for adults experiencing a substance abuse disorder.

  

Jessica believes that each individual can empower themselves and take charge of their life path.  She assists individuals to achieve self-empowerment by utilizing various therapeutic approaches such as trauma-informed interventions, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy, mindfulness, and strengths-based interventions.  Jessica también trabaja con clientes que hablan español, especialmente clientes inmigrantes.

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Jessica has called Central Texas home since 2000.  She enjoys going on nature walks and spending time with her friends and family.

CHRISTI NEVILLE, LPC, THERAPIST
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Christi Neville earned her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver in 1999, and following her own personal experience with sudden partner loss, has dedicated the last twenty years to the field of bereavement.   Within this specialty, she has enjoyed working both in private practice, and a variety of nonprofit positions, including many years with hospice bereavement programs, teaching graduate-level grief courses, and coordinating grief support groups for all types of loss.  Her therapeutic work incorporates mindfulness, Narrative Therapy, and other approaches that are strength-based, trauma-informed, and solution-focused.  Grounded in a compassionate presence and a belief in the resiliency of the human spirit, Christi fosters

hope, healing, and empowerment in each person’s unique journey through loss. In her spare time, Christi enjoys music, camping, and all kinds of outdoor adventures with her son. 

SUZIE SHELBY, LMSW, THERAPIST
Supervised by GIANNA VIOLA, LCSW-S
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Suzie Shelby earned her Master of Social Work from Smith College for Social Work in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has a Bachelor of Art in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Denver and a Master of Science in Special Education from the University of Tennessee. She is also a Licensed Massage Therapist. Suzie’s career paths have organically unfolded with her experiences as a Special Education Teacher at the Texas School for the Deaf and as a Licensed Massage Therapist specializing in working with individuals affected by cancer and trauma, paving the way for a third career in social work. Suzie was drawn to the message of hope and healing at The Austin Center for Grief & Loss and started as a Volunteer Support Group 

Facilitator. Her interest in grief and loss counseling grew out of her personal experiences with familial cancer, anticipated loss, sudden death loss, and relationship loss. She has come to appreciate the difficulties and the potential posttraumatic growth of the grief journey, as well as, how unique each person’s grief journey is. Some of the healing modalities she uses to support those experiencing trauma, grief, and loss include Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, Mindfulness, and Mind-Body techniques. Suzie believes in creating a safe and welcoming space for each person to heal in their own way and at their own pace while providing therapeutic companionship along the way. Suzie’s self-care includes spending time in nature, lap swimming, especially under the moon and stars at night, and meditating.

CHANVEEN TANEJA, LPC-Associate, THERAPIST and GROUP COORDINATOR
Supervised by JAIME TELFEYAN, MS, LPC-S, NCC
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Chanveen Taneja is a licensed professional counselor associate in the state of Texas, supervised by Jaime Telfeyan. She earned her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado. Chanveen is passionate about helping people who want to explore spirituality and, in the process, understand their purpose and meaning in life. She believes we are all spiritual beings here to live meaningful lives. Anxiety, depression, self-esteem, life transitions, grief and loss, identity, and many other issues can be resolved when one can comprehend the big picture of life and how every piece of the puzzle fits in it, including our existence. Her knowledge about reincarnation and the law of karma forms the lens and aids her to discern the current life challenges one is

going through. Chanveen aspires to help individuals cultivate self-confidence, self-healing, and self-acceptance.  She offers counseling from a holistic perspective that considers the whole person: mind, body, and spirit.

MATT TRIETSCH, MA, LPC Associate, NCC, PHR,
SHRM-CP, THERAPIST
Supervised by JEANENE SMITH, MA, LPC-S, LMFT-S
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Matt Trietsch (he/him/his)  has been working with clients in grief and loss since he retired a 20-year career in Human Resources. He creatively blends formal education with decades of real world personal and professional history in his relaxed and informal sessions with minimal psychobabble. Grounded in person-centered/humanistic theory, he also creatively weaves together strategies from evidence-based theories to help clients in their journey. Matt welcomes and celebrates you – all of you, regardless of what society thinks. He prides himself in his meaningful, deep, and authentic therapeutic relationships. You are the expert in your life and experience; he follows your lead.  

 

Matt is no stranger to the agonizing pain

associated with grief and loss. His personal life experiences with death, career loss, betrayal, and addiction fuel his deep empathy. Humans are woefully prepared for experiencing grief but it’s one of few guarantees in life.  Matt knows humans hurt so deeply because we love so deeply. Loving so deeply can, however, bring us joy again.  

 

In addition to being LPC Associate in Texas, Matt is a National Certified Counselor and holds a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Seminary of the Southwest and a Bachelor of Arts in Interpersonal Communication and Sociology from Texas State University.  Matt identifies as a white, middle-class, middle-aged, gay and queer, cis-gender male who steadies himself in a dynamic and ever-evolving blend of western and eastern spiritual beliefs but was raised with a progressive Christian faith. In Matt’s free time, he equally enjoys solitude and sharing time with friends, family, and his rescue dogs along with watching tv series and movies, reading, photography, meditation, the arts, good food, and traveling - in and out of his RV.  

ARIANA VALADEZ, Counseling Practicum Student,  supervised by PAMELA A. MALONE, PH.D., LCSW-S, FT
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Ariana M. Valadez (she/hers/ella) is a bilingual Counseling Intern pursuing her Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at St. Edward’s University. Providing support, creating safe spaces, and advocating for underserved and marginalized populations is what inspired Ariana to become a mental health professional. She is dedicated to anti-racism and the decolonization of counseling spaces. She is passionate about working with adolescents, adults, groups, couples and families because she believes that connection and community is integral to our wellbeing.

 

Ariana is interested in working with loss in its many forms such as: death loss, a relationship loss or separation, losses related to immigration, a pet loss, and others. She gravitates towards incorporating attachment, narrative, internal family systems, and 

relational-cultural theories to a trauma-informed clinical approach. Central to her approach is collaborating with her clients and the belief that each of us is the expert on our own lives.

 

Ariana (AHD-YA-NAH) was born in México, raised in Houston, Texas, and has bounced between Austin and San Sebastián, Spain. Although she has a Bachelor’s degree in History, she discovered a love for teaching and working adolescents as an English teacher in Spain. She loves art, movies, travel, learning languages, and eating her way through Austin, but she especially loves her hairless pup, Troy.

NADIA VELASQUEZ, LCSW, THERAPIST
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Nadia Velasquez is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Nadia has over 3 years experience working as a Hospice Austin Social Worker, providing anticipatory grief and loss support to patients and families as they cope with a terminal prognosis. More recently, Nadia provides mental health counseling to home-bound adults. Nadia has extensive experience working with older adults in areas of mental health, aging, adjustment, chronic illness, disability, trauma, grief, and loss. Nadia earned a Master of Science in Social Work from The Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Nadia enjoys spending time outdoors, working on the yard, and traveling near and far. 

HEATHER VIKSTEDT, MA, LPC-Associate, THERAPIST
Supervised by BRITTANY NEECE, LPC-S, LMFT-S
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Heather Vikstedt earned her Master’s in Professional Counseling from Texas State University in 2019. Her journey towards a career in counseling began as a group facilitator working with people in recovery from trauma, addiction, and co-dependency. Through this experience she discovered a passion for walking alongside people as they heal from some of the most difficult experiences of their lives.

 

Heather believes that we all have unique life experiences that shape how we view ourselves, others, and the world around us. Our life experiences may have left us with a great deal of pain and distress, feeling stuck, lost and confused, or like life is unmanageable. As a 

counselor, Heather strives to build relationships where clients feel connected, acknowledged for who they are, and fully accepted in a safe and compassionate environment. In working alongside her clients, Heather utilizes a number of interventions to facilitate the discovery of their own strengths, resilience, and power as they heal. Heather has experience working with clients of all ages who are dealing with grief and loss, traumatic experiences, anxiety, depression, substance use, self-esteem, relationship difficulties, and family conflict. Outside of work, Heather enjoys spending time hiking, biking, and playing games with family and friends.

DONNA XU, MS, LMFT-Associate, THERAPIST
Supervised by JEANENE SMITH, MA, LPC-S, LMFT-S
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Donna Xu is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate. Donna earned a Masters of Science in Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University in Houston. Donna has 4 years experience working with clients who have been through trauma, depression, anxiety, PTSD, domestic and sexual abuse, addiction, and loss. Working with couples, both marital and premarital is one of Donna’s passions. She admires how each couple is unique and how they work through their issues as a unit. Currently, Donna provides mental health counseling to working professionals, couples, and students who wish to have online therapy. Donna enjoys singing opera arias, learning Japanese, practicing the piano when she has time, spending time with her husband (since she is quite the moviephile), and cuddling with her fur babies: Yuna, the adorable chihuahua, and Nimbus, the elegant kitty.  

Please call our office, 512.472.7878, for the availability of each therapist.